Expectations are like hope…a double edged sword. They are good to have because they can be very motivating. On the other hand, they can lead you to places of great sadness. So what to do? To have or have not? I’ve pondered this many times. My pessimistic self says, don’t have too many expectations. They can lead to a lot of disappointment. However, if you don’t expect anything of yourself or your life, how will get anywhere.
For example…is it dangerous to expect or even hope you will find a great person to date and eventually marry? There are two sides to this coin and I will try to explore each side. Maybe I’ll be able to find a happy medium. Since I’m a pessimist by nature I will explore the negative side first. For instance, it may not be too dangerous to expect that you are going to get married. Statistics point to the fact that you have a good chance. Most people do get married in their lifetime, sometimes more than once. However, some students I meet have high expectations for not only who they are going to marry but when. I know some people who say they want to marry right out of college. It can work out for you this way, but you may feel very disappointed or wonder what is wrong with you if you don’t get married in this expected time line.
In my experience, friends and acquaintances who have put too many expectations on getting married by a certain age tend to settle. They just want the title so bad they don’t really care how they get it. I don’t think this is a smart idea. How about the expectations on who you are going to marry? This can be tricky. I would say the negative side of this expectation is setting the bar too high or being too narrow minded in your opinion. You never know who you are going to meet and be attracted to. You might think you only are attracted to people who have dark hair and are athletic, but you may be surprised by who really catches your eye and is a keeper. I also think some people focus too much on what their partner should do for them in a marriage and not on what they need to bring to the table. Some people expect to be taken care of and always be put first. This isn’t how marriage always works. I think it is important to also focus on your own character, not just your partner’s. If you want to be with someone great, then try to be someone great yourself first.
Now, for the positive side of expectations. I think it is a good thing to dream and use your imagination when it comes to your future. I think it can be great to have expectations for how your life is going to turn out. You don’t need to settle for less in your life. The great thing about having expectations is that is can push you to a higher level. I always tell people to believe in themselves. You may not think someone could be attracted to you either because they have more money, they seem a lot smarter, or in your mind they are way more hot than you see yourself. I find that love can be blind at times. It sees beyond money, brains, and sometimes even looks. You never know who may fall in love with you. I have dated people who never went beyond a high school education. They didn’t think I would be attracted to them because I had my Master’s degree and went to a private school. It didn’t really matter to me that they didn’t go to college as long as we had other things in common. I also underestimated myself a lot. I would often think I wasn’t pretty enough for someone to be attracted to. I wasn’t confident and probably missed out on opportunities because I didn’t think they were possible. Some of the guys who have asked me out I’ve thought were out of my league. They saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself at that time. I wish I would have had higher expectations because then maybe more doors would have been open to me.
I’ve seen a lot of disappointment and a lot of great things from having high expectations. I think it is good to have some realistic expectations, but be willing to make changes and compromises in your vision for your future. Nothing is set in stone and people change. As you go through college you change so much. You will also change even more in the few years after college when you go out and live on your own and have your first career type job. No one says you have to be married by 25, have your first child by 28 and live happily ever after with a vacation home in Aruba. Everyone’s vision is different and you may have to adjust yours if your timeline is a little off what reality is going to throw your way. Also remember, that some people do marry young and it works out. However, some people marry young and change a lot. Some people end up divorced and it wasn’t what they expected to deal with in their life. When things change, roll with it. A lot of people get divorced and then go on to meet the love of their life in their later 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s and 5o’s. None of us have a crystal ball, so we make the best choices with the information we have at the time. If your choice doesn’t live up your expectations, you can either make adjustments in your expectations or make different choices that lead you in a different direction.
Like most things in life, you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them. I think this is true of having expectations and hope. It has its wonderful side, but it also has a dark side. I recommend pushing yourself, but not too hard! It is a fine line to walk. I know this is true for yourself, your relationships and even when you become a parent. There will be days when your realize you pushed too hard and had too many expectations, and there will be times when you don’t push hard enough and you realize you may have missed out on an opportunity. All I can say is, just keep doing your best and that is all anyone should ever expect of you.